Between a Rock & a…Last Place

The Cardinals have trudged their way through June. Thank Goodness the weakest MLB team in the league (Arizona) came to town and helped us raise our spirits….and our record. But…that being said….our Cards only have the Pirates beneath them—a club that left the Lou with a 3 of 4 series win last week.

….1st of all, the Cards fans REALLY are spoiled. The last time that the Cards were in last place for the season was 1990! Anheuser-Busch still owned the Cardinals but Gussie had passed away and taken with him the zeal for owning the club. The 6th place finish with a 70-92 season despite having a veteran team with only 1 starting player under 25 years of age –Todd Zeile. The Cards finished that season with a 7 game losing streak while completing a 70-92 record under 3 well know managers—Whitey Herzog, Red Schoendienst & Joe Torre.  It does happen to everyone. Even the Dodgers, last finished in the basement in 1992.  For the Yankees, 1966 was their last cellar dwelling finish.The last time that the Cards were in last place at any part of the season was In early April 2017 with a 4-9 record. However, they finished in 3rd place that year under Mike Matheny.

…For this month of June, the Cards are 10-17 while facing a favorable part of their schedule–three 2nd place teams , two 3rd place teams, one 4th place team and three 5th (last)place teams. Note…they haven’t played any 1st place teams in June). Those 10 wins included two sweeps over the Marlins & DBacks. The pace of Arizona’s current win rate would give them 44 wins for the 2021 season. 4 national League teams ALREADY have more than 44 wins!

…This month St Louis struggled at the plate- a .217 average, .290 OB percentage and .336 slugging percentage as a team throughout the month — which all ranked 29th among Major League teams

If we compare the ’21  Cards only to the other 14 NL teams in batting for the season, Cards are 13th-avg; 11th-runs scored;12th in OPS; 11th in Hits; 12th in drawing walks;9th in HR. In pitching, the Cards are 9thh in ERA, #12-WHIP, #15-walks, #15-HBP,  9th-batting avg against them on the mound; #10-quality starts. Those number aren’t surprising if you’ve been watching the Cards games.

…So much for the numbers, it’s the players!  Let’s start with the pitching. 1st of all, a very sad, unfortunate injury has sidelined their ace, Jack Flaherty for weeks. No one else on the staff comes close to his skill level. He could go deep in games, keeping the bullpen quiet, and dominate games.. It has been a devastating loss for the Birds.

…Carlos Martinez continues to be an enigma. His best year was 2016—5 years ago! He was 16-9 that season following a 14-7 mark in 2015. Things have slid downhill since then. After a 12-11 year in 2016, he split time between starter/reliever in 2017. He began closing in 2018, became the closer in 2019 . In 2020, he was 0-3 and this year he’s 3-9. The Cards have been shuffling Carlos around for years now trying to find his niche. Carlos is an emotional roller-coaster on the mound. His emotions seem to detract from his concentration. He’s gone 79 innings in 15 starts this year… while lugging around a heavy 6.38 ERA. However, He’s coming off his best game of the season. It was 6 innings, 1 run, 4 hits. Carlos tried a new approach in this game against the lowly D-Backs…he worked very quickly. Even though he’s in his 9th MLB year, we still don’t know his best role? A larger question may be…How will Carlos react when things DON’T go well? Often in the past, when something “bad” happens, he can’t seem to get over it. He’s fallen apart delivering juicy pitches to the batters after a bad call/hit/error. Is he still full of “potential”, a real star, or, is he our best trade bait?

…..Alex Reyes has been really superb but….we don’t get to see him enough. He’s been a spectacular closer. He has 18 saves, is giving up only 4.2 hits/9 innings, ERA of 1.04  But….too many times, our lead is squandered before he can get into the game. We need to use him more for 2-3 innings. Then give him 2-3 days off. Now’s the time—he’s 26 years old—having his best year.

…I’m always wondering why the younger starting pitchers don’t emulate Wainwright, Kim, even our latest soft-thrower 36 year old, Wade LaBlanc?  Pitching isn’t just throwing the ball by the batters, it’s pitching so you get batters out quicker, easier with good pitches that the batter hits w/o much zip! Control is the name of the game! I’m so tired of hearing that Johan Oviedo has such “good stuff”. Who cares if he can’t put it where he wants it? He must have a very high potential, but.. to this point, he’s a thrower..yes…a flamer-thrower..but control keeps you in the game, not strikeouts and walks.

…I’m also wondering if the Haircut to John Gant was like the haircut to Samson?  Gant seems to have lost his “stuff” like Samson lost his strength since his haircut 😊

….Paul DeJong has to produce for the Cards…. Apparently, the Cards can’t/won’t trade him. I’d go back to clips of 2 years ago– compare his swing between now & then—his bat speed & his elevated angle of swing, have his eyes checked (vital to a batter).  He should be in his prime but…..????

…For a team that raves about its farm system, we’ve seen a bevy of players, who weren’t ready for the MLB, parade through Busch—John Nogowski (started season with Cards-now released), Max Moroff, Justin Williams, Scott Hurst, Lars Nootbaar. I’ve been impressed with Edmundo Sosa. His current .256 average is 5th on the team! His defense & speed have been assets. Shortstop would be a likely home for Sosa but Cards won’t divest themselves of DeJong.

… One has to wonder when we’ll see our premier minor-league prospect-pitcher Matt Libatore. He’s 21– at the age of his athletic peak. It seems that he could easily match…or be better…than a couple of our current starters.

….Jim Edmonds has really been exceptional in the past 7-10 days talking about batting on the broadcasts. One of his thoughts is to go “up there” looking for the fastball. Then SWING! If you’re ahead in the count, the same thing. Generally.. it seems… he’s saying to be more aggressive in the batters box.

….. I’m sure that you’ll have plenty of thoughts. SO I hope you’ll respond on Bob Ryan Facebook page or send it to me & I’ll post it. Other Bob Ryan blogs may be found on http://www.bobryansportsblog.com. Thanks for the read, Bob.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s